A NOTE FROM FeedTheSpirit HOST BOBBIE LEWIS: I am traveling this week and am pleased to welcome Saloma Furlong to our online home for stories—and recipes—about faith, family traditions and good food. Stay tuned! I’ll be back soon with some special stories about foods for Christian and Jewish holidays. Here’s Saloma ….
A TASTE OF MY AMISH HOME
By SALOMA FURLONG
At the end of my new book, Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds, I include some recipes from the Amish community where I grew up. Among them, “Mem’s White Bread” holds the deepest memories. When my older brother and sister started going to school and I was the oldest one still left at home, I would oftentimes make bread right alongside my mother, Mem. She would start first thing in the morning to make all of her loaves. When she reached the stage of turning out her dough for kneading on her breadboard, she would give me a blob of dough and let me knead it right next to her.
Of course, she often had to throw out the loaf I made because I was small and I sometimes would drop my dough on the floor while I was kneading it. It could get pretty dirty. But, sometimes, my bread would make it all the way through the process—I wouldn’t drop it—and then I’d be so proud to eat it!
When I did start going to school, I would come home on bread-baking day and I would tell her: “Oh, you made bread today without me!” So, Mem actually changed her schedule and made bread later in the day, when I was home from school.
When I was growing up, Mem was known as the best bread baker in our church district. I learned how to bake Mem‘s white bread, but it wasn’t until I was baking professionally that I wrote down the recipe. Here is the closest I have come to duplicating Mem‘s bread, including her way of teaching me what the temperature of the water or milk should be when adding the yeast.
She also would make cinnamon rolls from that white bread dough. I don’t have a written-down recipe for that, from her, but I did find a recipe for what I call the “Sticky Bun Stuff” in a Mennonite cookbook that seems to me a perfect way to recreate Mem’s sticky buns.
If you would like to learn more about my story, which was featured in two films about the Amish on the PBS network, please read my interview with ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm.